Full Review NVIDIA's new GeForce256 'GPU'


NVIDIA's new GPU entered the scene with quite a lot of noise and in many respects it deserves all the attention it got so far. However, I had expected a bit more personally, but I am known to be a bit unreasonable sometimes.

Let's have a look at the good sides first. Geforce256 performs well and is ahead of the competition in the vast majority of the benchmarks, especially at high resolutions. Those benchmarks look as if they are from the last century, if you realize GeForce's new features and its ability to display highly detailed scenes with huge amounts of polygons. Buyers of GeForce will indeed get the fastest and most advanced 3D-chip out there and the pleasure to run games on GeForce may grow as new and demanding games show up on the scene.

However, first of all I expected GeForce to be further ahead of the competition even in today's benchmarks. I am definitely disappointed with the memory interface, which deeply depends on the availability of double data rate memory. This means that the cards with single data rate SDRAM, which are shipping right now, are not as fast as they could be, simply due to the memory issue. I also expected to see some kind of advantage of the transfer and lighting engine in current applications. The CPU-scaling benchmark shows that GeForce scales about the same as TNT2 right now though

What I have to say is that GeForce is another product made for the, hopefully close, future. As the drivers improve even the scores in current games might improve and once games become as detailed as the TreeMark, CPU-scaling may indeed become a thing of the past. Once DDR-SDRAM becomes available on GeForce-cards, it's definitely the card to buy, but you have to decide for yourself if the performance advance that is offered by the currently shipping cards with SDR-memory is enough for you to justify the purchase. I also expect that NVIDIA will either improve the yields or soon move over to .18µ-technology, so that future GeForce-chips will have higher clock rates and thus higher fill rates, which will also greatly improve its performance. I will get one personally, but I can justify the expense and I want to have the fastest card I can get, especially for Quake3. If you are tight on your budget but still keen on GeForce, then I'd suggest waiting until the DDR-cards become available. That's when I will get another one for myself.

NVIDIA had the courage to come first to market with a 3D-chip that includes a full transform and lighting engine. All the other cards with this feature that will be released later will take advantage of the fact that NVIDIA pushed the door open into a new gaming era with highly detailed graphics. I can understand well that the developers love this 'GPU', but we will have to wait for those developers to finish their work until we can start to experience GeForce's real potential.

CONTINUED: GeForce256 and the First T&L-Title
Now that we know how GeForce performs with today's games, let's have a look at its performance with an actual T&L-title. Dragon Moor Zoological Gardens throws boat loads of polygons at our new 3D-hero and its contestants. Will the integrated T&L-engine make the difference?